In a new invention published Thursday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple outlines a special process for identifying individuals from a digital image by using techniques of facial recognition and then sends out a copy of the image to those people by using associated contact data pulled from an app such as Contacts.

Under the name Systems and methods for sending digital images, the first Apple patent application outlines a system that helps to streamline the sharing of photos process with select groups of individuals.

The service applies the facial recognition algorithms to the digital image and then presents options to share with the recognized individual through SMS, email or other forms of communication.

For example, the new system recognizes faces in a photo with groups of people and automatically propagates a list of possible recipients based upon the information.

Contact information such as email addresses or telephone numbers are pulled up from apps such as Contacts and then assigned to the faces that are identified. Alternatively, the user can associate the address information to identify the people manually.

In some cases, the faces that are recognized are enclose within a box or highlighted and then presented alongside icons that indicate the different types of communication.

Users are able to interact with the UI and select who present in the photo is to receive a copy of the image and how the copy will be sent.

In certain cases, a person might be assigned a communication mode that is set up as a default such as an email or SMS.

In another instance, users can receive photos automatically in which they become identified on what is called an opt-in basis.

This calls for uploading an image to a cloud service to receive facial recognition and then automatically sending the shared photo alerts

The owner of the picture could apply certain restrictions to the process of sharing such as limiting access on a per person basis or sending out sharing invites to other users that are not present in the image.

The new application covers algorithms for facial recognition and concepts for the learning of new faces, which is a feature that retroactively can be used to tag people in photos.